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deavoured to throw advice applicable to every age and rank. And in the following Discourses, though they will claim more immediately the attention of the young, such observations and instructions will be incidentally offered, as are calculated, I trust, to be of service to all.
From all, then, and especially from you * who are beginning your career in life, let me ask a willing and a patient ear, while I expound to you, in the best manner I am able, your three Great
* It is gratifying to observe the number of young persons who constantly attend divine service in the afternoon at this (St. Margaret's) Church. This voluntary act, in many instances unintermitted, and proceeding, I am persuaded, from a conviction of duty, and a sense of real piety, deserves every encouragement the Christian Minister can give it. It has become too much a fashion to abstain from entering the House of Prayer a second time on the Sabbathday; too much a prevailing delusion, that the devo. tional tribute is abundantly paid, when the morning service is at an end. That this evil fashion and this dangerous delusion may soon pass away, and the wise ordinances of our pious forefathers be more strictly and religiously observed, must ever be the fervent prayer of all good Christians.
your Duty towards God, your Duty towards your Neighbour, and your Duty towards Yourselves.
I shall, first, discourse to you on your Duty towards God. All that relates to this important point I shall comprehend under the general heads of Belief, Fear, and Love. The subject of Belief will occupy our present consideration.
In the first place, you should believe in God; for 66 without Faith it is impossible to please him ; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Faith in him is the foundation of all intercourse with him. Without it you can have no interest in hin, nor in any thing that he has done for mankind. If
you admit not this grand fundamental principle, this elementary tenet of religious truth, what is there to induce or constrain you to lead a righteous life? what is there, besides the authority of human laws, and the fear of human punishment, to deter you from entering
* Heb. xi. 6.
upon a vicious course, and gratifying every evil passion and propensity of your souls ? Has it entered into your imaginations, that, because virtue is amiable, you will love her for her own sake, and preserve her in your hearts through life? If so, be assured, that you have admitted a mistaken notion, and are entertaining a delusion vain as the vision of the night. For lovely as virtue is, much as you have heard her praised, much as you yourselves have praised her, you will fly from her in the hour of temptation, unless you love her principally for the sake, and in obedience to the commands of God, in whom you believe. There is no moral principle nor feeling, no affection for any object however amiable, no sentiment of regard for any conduct however worthy of approbation, that will supply you with sufficient strength to resist the repeated endeavours of Satan to turn you aside from the right way. The man, who builds
, upon his own powers of resistance alone, or merely upon the strength of a good disposition, or a benevolent heart, erects a fortification on so weak a ground, that
the enemy will find it an easy task to throw down every outwork of defence, and demolish at last the citadel itself.
That there is, especially in a civilized country, such a being as an Atheist, who from the bottom of his soul disbelieves the existence of a God, I cannot, I confess, bring myself to imagine. Many men certainly live*"without God in the world," and act as if there were no Divine Spectator of their conduct, no Searcher of hearts, no Rewarder or Punisher of human deeds. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Why is this? Is it because they really do not believe in a Deity? because, after the fullest and most mature investigation their reason can institute, they feel persuaded, that there is no such Being? No; for the existence of a God is a truth, of which their natural understanding, if consulted, must convince them; a truth, to which their every sense and faculty bears testimony; a truth, engraven on every object above, beneath,
around them in characters the most distinct and legible. Can they consider the Heavens on bigh, and the earth below, the beauties, the wonders, the glories that encircle them on every side, the order, the regularity, the consistent and unvarying operations, and the wise and provident economy, which are so abundantly. manifest throughout all created nature ? can they contemplate their own existence, the mysterious union of soul and body, the incomprehensible workings of the mind, and the complicated iniracles of the human frame? can they reflect on the weakness of their own powers, on the narrow limits of their most expanded views, and on their utter incapacity to make a flower grow, to stop a wave that roars, or to turn a wind that blows ? can they hear the thunder roll over their heads, and see the lightning flash before their eyes ? and disbelieve the existence of a God ? Impossible. The fact is, they live a life of wickedness, and knowing that, if there be a God, they will indubitably be punished, they endeavour, by a variety of plausible and